A week before my first flight with my five-month-old baby girl, I was reminiscing with Britnee about the days when taking a vacation meant shoving some clothes in a backpack and busing it to the airport to catch the cheapest red eye.
Fast forward to the present. Travelling with a little one is a whole new ballgame! For the first time in my life convenience factored much higher in my decision making than cost. My fiancé and I paid for airport parking, checked in luggage, rented a car, and bought dinner on the plane. Because I enjoy Britnee’s blog posts, I offered to guest blog my learnings about flying with my baby girl for the first time. Hope they’re helpful!
DO pick a relatively easy first plane trip. Our trip to Toronto was a clear winner for a couple of reasons. First, it is short. Only 3.5 to 4 hours and the time difference of 2 hours lets you keep the same sleep schedule if you’re careful. Second, we stayed with my older sister who has an adorable toddler and access to board books, toys, a pack and play that doubled as a crib, laundry facilities, and clothing we forgot to take with us, allowing us to pack less.
DO pack smart. A few sleepers, a spit cloth, a chew toy, soother, a few diapers and Sudocream will go a long way. I sometimes forget stores exist outside of Edmonton. If you end up needing something you forgot to pack you can probably buy it at your destination.
DO consider airport parking. We went with JetSet Parking at the Edmonton airport. It’s way easier to manoeuvre car seat, stroller, luggage, and baby when somebody helps you load everything into the shuttle and drives you straight to the gate. If you travel in the dead of winter, consider splurging on a power stall. We didn’t and our car battery died. Dealing with that upon our arrival to Edmonton in -30 C weather was not fun at all.
If your trip is a shorter one, DO consider checking in your stroller/car seat with luggage and not at the gate. Especially if it’s just one person travelling with an infant. We gate checked and regretted it. Disassembling everything was cumbersome and the flight crew won’t let you on and off the plane, so you have to take everything in one go. This means carry on, diaper bag, baby and because it’s winter, baby’s snowsuit, blanket, your coat, your purse, water bottle, etc. Our hands were very full and it was very awkward. There was another couple with a child on the same flight and they used a baby carrier; this made for a hands-free dad and happy baby. Definitely a learning experience for our next trip. DO consider bringing along your Baby Bjorn, or whatever brand you have.
DO consider purchasing Britnee’s Hap Tim backpack diaper bag. I didn’t know such diaper bags existed before my baby shower and asked for the classic over the shoulder bag. It’s great with the stroller but not so great at the airport. It kept crashing into the seats, didn’t fit quite right in the overhead compartment, and was annoying to dig through on the flight.
DO consider your travel outfit and baby’s travel outfit. My Luxtreme Lulus are very comfy but very slippery – my baby girl kept sliding down my knees. Next time I’ll wear something just as comfortable but not as smooth
Building on the previous suggestion, DO think about your nursing options. Something I’ve struggled with since my baby girl’s birth is feeding her in public. I bought a nursing poncho which is great for the mall and cafe but not so great in a cramped airplane seat. Luckily, I wore this great tunic from Thyme Maternity with two zippers for easy access and limited exposure that worked well for me. If you’re diligent with pumping, DO consider bringing a bottle of EBM (expressed breast milk), or formula.
Next, your child will inevitably poop in the airplane. It’s Murphy’s law. Something I started carrying with me is a long piece of paper towel for these inopportune moments and that helped manage the mess. DO consider a brand that is extra absorbent.
When your flight begins, some infants don’t like the cabin pressure change. Our baby girl was fine but people say a quick feed or sucking on a soother during takeoff and landing can help manage the ear popping. If baby is in too much pain to take a soother, a few drops of oral sucrose on the pacifier can sweeten the deal.
Finally, have fun! It can be stressful but it’s also a wonderful ‘first.’ DO take pictures or a short video of your baby’s first trip. It’s probably something they will want to see or hear about when they get older.